At Home with Ezra Kire of Morning Glory
On the Lower East Side of Manhattan, FrankenSounds knocks on the door of Morning Glory's Ezra Kire. After a night of working on new material, he flies out the front door and towards the cafe. We pick up the essential tea and coffee and head back up through the gratified stairwell to the top floor. Kire's apartment is a well defined space and has been the feature of a few photo shoots and it's easy to see why?
Kire's hospitality and kindness breeds the perfect platform to start asking... anything you really want to know. Kicking off, we start by discussing Morning Glory in it's current form, locality being the main driver behind who he works with today as he explains, "Most of us have been friends forever I guess, it has to be someone within the Tri-state area at least." An exception to the rule granted most recently, "Normally, I've worked with people in the 5 boroughs but we were recently looking for a new drummer, and we found this kid, he's all the way in Boston, 3 hours away so if we want to rehearse he's got quite a commute y'know? Which is just as well, 'cos I don't like rehearsing that much."
"The thing is, after a while, you realise that it's never gonna break up, that's all just fuckin' bullshit, it's just gonna keep going and going like that forever, so you may as well as quit." - Ezra Kire on Leftover Crack
Morning Glory's schedule when they land in Australia come September takes them on a rigorous 17 show tour from Toowoomba, through the East Coast major cities, and hitting regional areas, Nambour, Ballarat and Geelong along the way. The work ethic of this band led by their maker, "We're a band, we play shows, I don't like days off, sometimes we have a day off but it comes to bite you in the ass."
Recently the touring New York based 5 piece made that mistake on their European tour, "What's a day off? We just hung out in a pub all day, that's all we did." Idle hands making the devil's work, "People fight when they have a day off, they fight when they've got nothing else to do so it's like... We got a day off. What we gonna do? lets fuckin' fight."
Honey offered for my tea later and we're talking about the details, "The European tour just gone was a rough tour - It was really great - but it had it's rollercoaster moments y'know? Compared to some of our previous tours, that have been stellar" Still not wanting to return Kire points out, "I didn't really want to come home this time y'knoe? We're lucky that we have a band that doesn't fight a lot and everyone does get along."
When asked about studio time vs touring Kire reveals, "I love them both. I do love to tour, being out, connecting with people, playing music, I feel like it is one of the only things in life I do really well, it's a blessing and a gift."
The Love. The Hate.
"I'm used to being in bands that really despise each other, like really hate each other with a genuine animosity so it's a lot of fun being around the band I work with now, where we get along most, if not all of the time." This being an important lesson learned as Kire remembers his influences, "All the bands that I grew up listening to always fucking hated each other so I thought that was the way it was supposed to be y'know? And eventually the outcome is the band always breaks up due to creative differences."
Watching a different way, he came to the realisation that it didn't have to be so hard, "Seeing bands in the world that actually like each other set a new model for me. I realised it didn't have to be that way so I picked people that I knew I could get along with on the road." Pretty happy about his discovery he confirms, "People can play shows and not fucking fight all the time? And no hate each other and say nasty things on stage and fucking get into fist fights, amazing."
With Kire's previous bands Leftover Crack and Choking Victim things were not quite so rosy but there is something to be said for that, "When 2 people hate each other, it makes really great chemistry on stage. Like in Leftover Crack we would have these giant fights - massive blow outs - and someone would get kicked out for a day, and we would have to find a replacement for that one night." The return being something so sweet, "Then the band member would come back and we would have these amazing shows afterwards."
"I was in those bands for along time. I just thought that was the way it is supposed to be." Thinking that the bands may have self imploded was an incorrect assumption, the circle spinning on repeat until somebody quits, "The thing is, after a while, you realise that it's never gonna break up, that's all just fuckin' bullshit, it's just gonna keep going and going like that forever, so you may as well as quit."
Discovering new music only is only a few staircases away for Kire, "I came home from the European tour a couple of days ago, I was wired, I'd just got off of my flight and I wondered into our basement that has a stage." Providing a platform for local musicians, his block is a regular spot for shows, "A lot of the time, street people come in and hang out and play." Not expecting to see much, Kire was taken by surprise. "I went in there and there was this girl playing guitar... I get a lot of people play music to me and they sound like everyone else y'know? But this girl, Grace was playing... and all of a sudden all the hair on my arms stood up, I was getting these goosebumps."
Listening intently, Kire asked to hear more, "She played me more and more songs, and it turns out, they're all originals." Blown away Kire started writing with the lady Grace, "She's this amazing singer/songwriter from the West Village who has been kicked out of her house and is living on the street, and I asked if she would let me play piano on her songs so she's been coming up and we've been working on songs together."
Outlining why the connection is so special here, Kire continues, "People who can write songs are rare, there are the ones that can play instruments but few are really good writers. Grace can write songs effortlessly she has this unpretentious way of writing and it comes completely naturally to her." Making sure the lines are clear, Kire supports for the good, " I don't want to make money from her, she just has this amazing talent and she deserves the help, cos she could have a career in the music industry and she deserves a shot."
The words covering the walls of the apartment leads the way into song-writing, "I have a different approach these days, I would sit down and try and write songs." Time now being a luxury, "Now, I'm blessed with the privilege to allow things to come to me, so I never try to write a song anymore, I just sort of let them come, it's much easier that way."
"Alot of the times music will come and words will come but they rarely come at the same time so I keep these books." A fat stack of greyscale numbered notebooks sit beside the piano, "I carry them wherever I go and when words come to me, I write them down... I have no idea where they belong." Melodies are captured as portable voice memos, "When melodies or music come to me, I'll just hum them into my phone and then somewhere along the way I try and make the 2 match."
'It's kinda like a puzzle you gotta fit it together, it's a bit of a game to me y'know?"
The Solo Material.
Kire's solo material is, "Going slower than I hoped." The reasoning, "I just keep writing more and more songs." This frustration stemming from too many tracks, "I think that anyone who writes songs, they think they're previously written song is their best song, not all the time... but 90% of the time, you write a song and say this fucking song is the greatest song I've ever written it has to be on my next record."
"I keep writing songs and saying that I have to go into the studio and track this one too, this one is going to make the record amazing so at this point I have about 50 or 60 songs."
What can we expect from the new solo album? "It's all acoustic guitar and piano songs." Adding to his artistic choices and possible confusion he points out, "That's the other thing too, I can't figure out how to fit that onto one record - I can either do one all acoustic, one all piano or I could somehow do half and half and somehow make it roll together so that's where my main struggle is at the moment."
Finding a muse in his most recent meeting of minds, Grace's help will be much appreciated, "I'm really excited about the album actually, especially working with Grace, she's a good collaborator, she's one of those people you don't have to suggest it, she already knows - Grace is someone you can just have that connection with so we work well together."
Featuring heavily in the process, this young, talented musician will be helping refine his sound, "I'll use her as a sounding board or what I call a 'bounce' which is someone you say a new lyric too and say, if you feel embarrassed and you get all blushed in front of that person while saying it, you automatically know it's a bad line."
Giving us several examples, Kire takes us back to words he wish he'd thought twice about writing, "I just used to just fuckin' write the first lyrics that came to my mind and I'm now I'm re-reading the lyrics and asking: Why didn't I bounce that off somebody first. What was I thinking??"
"Let's face it, a lot of the early songs about killing cops were really extremely adolescent and their were a lot of the songs about drugs that were very nefarious, they could go either way, they sort of walk that line."
Gimme Heroin was an anti-drug, cartel and government song Kire wrote for Morning Glory when he was strung out, "It was a mix of things but anyone can listen to that song and be like Wow! what a fucking asshole this guy is promoting heroin to all these kids." It's not cool when, "I see fuckin' 200 kids screaming Gimme Heroin at a show - that's fucked up."
"God forbid someone overdoses or ruins their lives after they've heard a song like that."
When Kire quit Leftover Crack in 2012 he was, "A fucking total mess." Lacking any stability and still heavily using he reveals, "I had nothing, no girlfriend, no job, no fuckin' money, no real place to go, no friends, no family, no career - you're getting old and your life's going downhill." Not shy about admitting his faults, he confesses, "I realised I made all these bad choices - and I was still fucked up on drugs so I had to fix that first."
His family rejecting him at a pretty young age, the last thing in the world he expected was a call from his Mother, "My Mom got in touch with me when I was really strung out one time, she had been researching me on the internet or whatever, and one of things she said to me was Oh my god, what are you doing? what are you telling these kids to do?"
"That's all I remember from that conversation. I remember thinking, Wow, my Ma thinks that what I'm doing is a horrible, horrible thing and she's probably right --- what am I telling these kids?" That and his loud conscience bred the switch and a new direction took hold. Morning Glory now dealing more in hope than despair.
Stranger In our Homeland. Australia. 1995.
Kire landed in Sydney as a tourist, he just "picked a place in the world" and took flight at the tender age of 20. The scenario a familiar one, "When I went there I had fucking divorced all my friends." Rolling a cigarette he explains his background, "At that point I had moved every year of my whole life as my parents were sort of migrant workers so come high school I only had a few friends, and I only known them for a few years so when we split, that was it."
After his stay in NSW he headed to Queensland, "Then I was like Surfers Paradise, that sounds great! I'll think I'll go there!" From that point Kire went up through Cairns and across to Darwin, eventually ending up in Perth, "I really love Perth actually, It's way the fuck out there but I ended up making a lot of great friends."
A home form home, Kire settled right in, "Australia has a huge music scene which is awesome so I would just jump the fences into all the festivals, stay at hostels, people's houses wherever I could, sometimes sleeping in the orchards or whatever."
When the 1995 Summersault festival rocked around to Perth, Kire found himself in circumstances that would later define his career, "I was watching Rancid play at the Summersault festival and I remember seeing this guy on stage who was guitar teching for Tim --- and I only remember this because he threw the guitar across the stage and Tim caught it and I was like, what a cool move ---- If I'm ever a guitar tech, that's the move I'm gonna use."
"Years later I would be in a band with that guy, his name is Brad Logan."
Crossing paths with more than just a few, Kire as a paying punter, caught Bikini Kill the night before at a small local show, "The day before the festival, I went to see a real small Bikini Kill show. Perth is so far out there's not much to do so all the bands from the festival came to the show. Maybe only 10 people paid to get in, so it was the 10 of us, who were the audience, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Kim Gordan was there, Thurston Moore... I got to meet all these different people which was a really great experience."
A sign 'o' the times to come, Kire muses "So Australia is where I started crossing paths with people I would meet and become friends with.. obviously we ended up on Tim's record label... I guess my time there was like a foreshadowing of what was going to happen, I didn't know it at the time."
Appreciation of our fair land coming in abundance, "I loved it. I was there for 6 months, I loved the fact that there is a great music culture and it has similar sort of attitude to New York, in that people will tell what they think about you right away. They don't pretend to be your friend, then stab you in the back later, they're straight upfront with you - they like to party hard and work hard and I totally get that."
"I'm really excited to go back and as a musician this time, as a band, and play some of the shows that I used to go to there all the time."
If you are an old friend of Kire's, he asked to go on record to say, "Don't EVER pop up on me, I hate that." An explanation required he sets it up, "Popping up at my shows? I consider that a fuckin' invasion, you're not supposed to drop by somebody's work all of a sudden, unannounced - y'know what I mean? At least tell me you're coming!"
"3 of my friends from high school showed up at our Toronto show, and to make matters worse, right before we played they were like "Yo Ez!" I'm literally walking stage to play... At least keep it s secret until after y'know? Don't fuck up my performance by me being up there thinking What are these guys doing here? Why are they standing right in the front row taking their shirts off."
"I don't come to your board meetings and want to get wasted and fuckin' talk about high school. Don't come to my job and fuckin' do that to me." Laughing he ends with, "We'll see if that happens in Australia." You have been warned.
Photos and words by Kenada Quinlan
Morning Gory are on tour in September with local legends The Bennies. Get tickets here
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